My Morrocan highlights: where eastern culture hits the west

I’ve just returned from an amazing week in Marrakesh, which marks my first trip to Morocco (and well Africa too as it comes to it). Here are some of my best bits ❤

img_0602-1My new friend: Shakira the Camel ❤

This was definitely a highlight. I love animals and adore nature so combining camels in the Sahara desert was definitely win win for me. This was actually my first time seeing camels in real life – they are pretty strange creatures but you have to agree they are undeniably cute.

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Walking around the Medina and souks

I don’t think that my repertoire of words cannot adequately depict the utter chaos of the Medina and souks. I’ll try. The Jemaa el Fna square was a full on sensory experience. Each of my senses was compromised and overloaded; it was rowdy, flamboyant and ear-piercing as well as vibrant, dazzling  and magical all in one. The smell encroached on us from every angle, both good and bad. Within a foot of the same square you can expect to smell the dire horse dung to exquisite fragrances and fresh aromas of herbs and spices. The food was delicious – an abundance of dried fruits, fresh produce and sweet treats – and hence something to suit every palate.

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Exploring the Medina and Koutoubia Mosque

Marrakesh reminded me a lot of middle eastern parts of the world that I’ve visited, which is perhaps because of its Arabian heritage. I have to say Marrakesh itself didn’t feel like being in Africa.

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Enjoying mint tea in Dar Darma Riad

The Souks are a labyrinth; take a wrong turn and you either end up lost down local residential street (countless times), a dead end (yep!) or maybe if you’re lucky in the actual place you intended (rarely). I wouldn’t count on it though, your guess is as good as your intention. But that’s part of the fun, right? One thing that really blew me away was the decor within the Riads. On the outside these buildings are nothing much to look at, but inside you become transported into a stunning tranquil space that feels miles away from the hustle and bustle.  A hole in a dusty wall can turn palatial inside.

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Without a shadow of a doubt the food highlight for me was Comptoir Darma. The lamb Tagine was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever tasted (coming from a non meat eater). The flavour was incredible; the prunes melted in my mouth. It was that rich and decedent that we had to balance it out with a more savoury lemon and olive couscous dish. The evening itself was a pure spectacle; the restaurant was opulent and our meal was accompanied by entertainment of belly dancers and entertainers.

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A day in the Atlas Mountains

Spending time traveling through the Atlas Mountains was an amazing experience. The indigenous people of Morocco, the Berbers, migrated to these mountainous regions of Morocco. We visited a traditional Berber village, saw how argan oil and almond butter is made, trekked to a waterfall, enjoyed a camel ride and quad biked through the Sahara Desert. All in a days work. 🙂

I went to Marrakech with no expectations. Annoyingly the only presumption I had was to be cautious of the locals, since I’d been warned a thousand times over to watch out for harassment. Don’t get me wrong, as two young women we experienced a lot of hassle, but I wouldn’t say it was any worse than some other (perhaps poor) countries. Having heard a ton of horror stories we were definitely prepared for the worse so it really wasn’t as bad as I expected! It certainly didn’t detract from enjoying the trip and being immersed in the culture.

I’m going to go into more details of specific aspects of the trip later on, but for now, I hope you enjoyed reading my best bits!

Thanks for reading,

Lianne x

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